MLB's 5 Worst Managing Blunders EverSeptember 17, 2011
MLB's 5 Worst Managing Blunders Ever
There have been some extraordinary managers in the long history of Major League Baseball. Bobby Cox, John McGraw, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre are just some of the brilliant men to have held the helm of baseball teams throughout history.
Of course, managing a baseball team is an extremely difficult task. Between setting lineups and pitching rotations and making tough in-game decisions, it takes a lot of fortitude to be a manager. Sometimes you make the right decisions, and sometimes you make bad ones. Sometimes, you make infamous ones.
Well, like just about anything in baseball, when a manager makes the wrong choice, people remember them—perhaps more so than the good decisions. Here are five managers who may regret some of the decisions they made. Some were more serious than others, but each had its own ramification on the career of the manager.
Don Mattingly: No U-Turns Allowed
This season is Don Mattingly's rookie season. As manager that is. Mattingly took over the manager post after Joe Torre retired at the end of 2010. But, Mattingly did get a rehearsal scene in July 2010.
In a game against the San Francisco Giants, Dodgers' manager Joe Torre had been ejected. Then-hitting coach Mattingly stepped in as the interim manager for the remainder of the game (it had already been expected that Mattingly would take over for Torre following the end of the 2010 season).
In the top of the ninth inning, the Dodgers were ahead 5-4 with their closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound. Broxton allowed the first two men to face him to reach base. After a sacrifice bunt, the Dodgers elected to intentionally walk Aubery Huff to load the bases for Andres Torres.
Mattingly made a trip to the mound to discuss defensive alignment. Once the discussion was over, Mattingly stepped onto the infield grass, effectively ending his trip to the mound (by virtue of rule 8.06 of the Official Baseball Rules). At that moment, James Loney asked a question, causing Mattingly to turn back around and step back on to the pitcher's mound, effectively causing a second trip to the mound (by virtue of the same rule).
Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy immediately alerted the umpires to the infraction, and after reviewing the situation, Broxton was immediately forced to leave the game. The Giants would wind up scoring three runs that inning, and went on to win the game 7-5.
This call has become somewhat of a controversy, as a deeper dive into the official rule shows that in a situation like this, the pitcher is automatically removed from the game, but not immediately.
If the infraction occurs at the beginning of an official at-bat, the pitcher is to remain in the game until the current batter has reached base or been retired. Nonetheless, this managerial rehearsal was not one for Mattingly to look back on.
Pete Rose: Gamblin' Man
Though this managerial blunder did not occur on the field, it still holds a place on this infamous list. In February of 1989, the game's all-time hits leader (and at the time Reds' manager) Pete Rose was summoned to the commissioner's office to discuss allegations that he had bet on baseball.
Amidst swirling controversy and news reports, Rose continued to deny these accusations and managed the first 125 games of the Reds' 1989 season. On August 24 that season, Rose voluntarily accepted to be placed on baseball's ineligibility list, thereby banning him from the game (and Cooperstown).
Today, Rose is still banned from baseball and has been anything but a public figure since the controversy began. And despite having more hits than anyone in the history of the game (and numerous publicity campaigns from devoted fans), Rose has not been enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Dusty Baker: Up in Arms
In the early part of the 2000 decade, the Chicago Cubs had two of the best young pitchers in the game—Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. Those two studs, along with a juggernaut offense, brought the Cubs within six outs of a possible World Series birth in 2003.
But it has been debated whether manager Dusty Baker relied a little too heavily on Wood and Prior. In 2003, Prior averaged about 113 pitches per start, while Wood averaged about 111 pitches per start. Since that time, both right-handers have been plagued by arm troubles which have tremendously diminished their overall value.
So much so, that Prior hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2006, and Wood hasn't started more than 22 games since that '03 season.
No one can definitively prove that these injuries are completely related to the amount of workload that was bestowed upon them by their skipper. And it's tough to hold Baker solely responsible for hampering the careers of these two hurlers. But there does seem to be some correlation between their usage and their injuries.
Terry Bevington: Answering the Call
In the middle of the 1995 season, the Chicago White Sox fired their manager, Gene Lamont, and promoted third-base coach Terry Bevington to manager. And despite having a winning record as the Sox manager, Bevington made one of the most head-scratching blunders the game has seen.
Heading into the eighth inning of a September 1997 game, the Sox were in front of the Indians 3-0. Tony Castillo started the inning as the fourth pitcher of the game for the South Siders. After allowing two hits (and recording one strikeout), Bevington removed Castillo from the game and delved into his beleaguered bullpen.
Next up was Jeff Darwin, who promptly surrendered a base hit to Manny Ramirez—the first and only batter he would face that evening. So with the bases loaded and one out in the inning, Bevington summoned Tom Fordham from the pen. He gave up a run-scoring single and a sacrifice fly to the only two men he faced, and all of a sudden the Indians were within a run of tying the score at three.
So Bevington came out of the dugout and made the call to the bullpen for a right-hander. The only problem was, there was no right-hander warming up. In fact, there was not a single pitcher throwing in the pen. So Keith Foulke answered the call, completely cold. He came in and intentionally walked the first batter to face him so that the Sox could get somebody warmed up in the bullpen.
This opened the floodgates, as the Indians went on to score five more runs in the inning, and wound up winning the game by a score of 8-3. The White Sox fired Bevington after the 1997 season.
Grady Little: The Curse Remains
Being a major league manager is tough. But being a major league manager in the postseason is even tougher.
We all know this story by now. It's viewed as perhaps the most controversial move by a manager in the last 25 years. For Boston Red Sox fans, it was just another chapter in the legendary tale of the "Curse." And for then-manager Grady Little, it would be the last thing he would do as the Red Sox skipper.
In Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the rival Yankees, the Sox had future Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez on the bump. Ahead in the game 5-2 and having already thrown 100 pitches in the game, Martinez convinced his manager to let him start the bottom half of the eighth inning. He got Nick Johnson to lead off the inning with an innocent pop out to shortstop. But it all went downhill from there.
Derek Jeter doubled, and Bernie Williams followed with a run-scoring single. This prompted Little to come to the mound, seemingly to make a switch. With the lefty Hideki Matsui coming to bat, Little had left-handed reliever Alan Embree warming in the bullpen. But to the surprise of just about anyone watching, Little stuck with the tiring right-hander. Pedro promptly served up back-to-back doubles, tying the game at five.
Finally, Little pulled the plug on Martinez, but the damage had been done. And, well, the rest as they say, is history. Mariano Rivera threw three dominant innings in relief, and Aaron Boone sent the Yankees to the World Series.
Little would go on to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2006-2007, but his reputation as a big-league manager was certainly tarnished by his ultimate decision in that memorable Game 7.